Passivhaus Excellence Breakfast Event on 25th June 2014

Claire Bowles welcomed all attendees to Addleshaw Goddard and explained this was our final event for the summer. Constructing Excellence seminars will resume in September after the awards ceremony which is held on 18th July 2014 at Sheffield City Hall. Our chair for the morning was introduced as Dr Tom Knowland, Head of Sustainable Energy & Climate Change.

There was a great array of construction professionals at the seminar and Tom kicked off the proceedings by thanking everybody for attending. Tom explained he has a great interest in Passivhaus and that Leeds is on the cusp of building its first Council houses for over 40 years with an aspiration to reach very high and hopefully Passivhaus standards. The aim is to have attractive council houses that achieve high environment and energy standards with less running costs. Tom introduced the first speaker of the day, Elrond Burrell from Architype Ltd to discuss “Passivhaus: Sacrificing natural materials for energy efficiency”

Elrond image

Elrond addressed the room and explained that he attends a lot of events speaking about Passivhaus and about BIM, both of which he is always very excited to share about. Architype have been around for 30 years and specialise in fully integrated design and low energy performance buildings and have won many awards. The company are very proud of delivering buildings that perform as well as or better than predicted.   Elrond described how some people have misconceptions about Passivhaus being hippy, green, soft and furry. Others believe it is German minimalistic. Architype’s theme is simple and elegant designs.

Elrond spoke about climate change and how this issue is critical. We need to reduce CO2 emissions, stop runaway climate change and invest money into doing so. The EU EPB directive 2010 stipulates we need to operate near zero energy buildings by 2018 (public) and in all buildings by 2020. This is an area of great importance.

Elrond talked about the PH performance standard. This is strongly about human comfort and to provide a good quality environment. It’s about setting ambitious but achievable targets. We need to meet benchmarks. This can be daunting but it gives you clarity. There is a rigorous certification process with checks by a 3rd party.

Love PH!

Elrond explained that Architype has won the Ashden award for cutting carbon. Architype used the award money in partnership with Oxford Brookes University to employ a researcher. The researcher undertook detailed building performance analysis and post occupancy evaluation of 10 of their buildings, including some live projects. The results were very educational to the company and helped in their move towards Passivhaus where the “performance gap” has essentially been eliminated. Passivhaus encourages an integrated design process where everyone collaborates. It is evidence based and certified Passivhaus are often performing better than predicted. It helps drive towards simplicity. Elrond stated “All our clients love it”. People who live in a Passivhaus would never live in any other house.

Elrond talked about the use of natural materials such as timber in a holistic way. There is an assurance that what is being used is being regrown. There is low embodied carbon found in natural materials.

Elrond asked the audience to guess from 2 sets of images shown which image was a certified Passivhaus and which one was not. The audience guessed correctly for the 1st pair of images but not the 2nd pair of images!

We love timber!

Elrond described how timber is widely used in New Zealand where he is originally from. Elrond explained that after he had worked in the UK for several years he was keen to join a company who used a lot of timber in their projects, which was part of his reason for joining Architype. He displayed images of a project at the University of East Anglia and talked about a typical wall made up with a load bearing stud and an additional zone for further insulation. This project is a really good example of timber through and through. Elrond explained that Architype typically use off site construction. Recycled newspaper is used as insulation. The shell of the building is exclusively timber. Natural stains and paints are used which complement and enhance the warmth and a tactile presence of the timber.

Elrond provided examples of projects such as the Passivhaus schools in Wolverhampton. This brings children into contact with natural materials. UK grown Douglas Fir is also used. Elrond described a University building that will be clad in thatch by using prefabricated thatch panels. This could bring new interest in the local thatching industry.

Elrond talked about how cedar shingles were used on the Hereford Archive and Records centre. Lime render was also used as this uses far less carbon dioxide. The repository (document storage) part of the building surpasses the Passivhaus standard as there are no people working in this part of the building.

Elrond described how at Wilkinson primary school in Wolverhampton linoleum flooring has been installed because this is hard wearing. Fermacell has been used for walls as this is denser than standard plasterboard and is made from recycled materials including cellulose fibre and gypsum. Ceilings are from wood wool panels. Plywood and softwood are used for handrails and architraves and there is plywood acoustic panelling also. Natural oils and stains are used were possible.   There are also timber batten ceiling, which helps to absorb sound. Architype even use recycled carpets and old car tyres for barrier matting!

Elrond closed his presentation by saying that some misconceptions are that the buildings are not attractive. Elrond spoke with great conviction about how attractive and beautiful Passivhaus buildings can be.

Tom Knowland thanked Elrond for a very informative presentation. Our next speaker was introduced as Chris Herring from Green Building Store to discuss the topic “From derelict barn to eco exemplar education centre”

Chris Herring image

Chris began by saying there may be a crossover of subject slides between his own and Elrond’s however this would only go to reinforce the subject matter.

Chris explained that his company were approached in 2011-12 about the renovation of Stirley Community Farm. The derelict barn was in a fairly exposed area and Chris laughed as he recalled how cold it had been on the first day he visited the barn!   Chris went on to explain that his business partner Bill Butcher was project manager for the project. The task was an eco-renovation to teach children about horticulture and growing. Chris explained they led the project and did the detailing. Chris stated if you are serious about a project the only way he knows is Passivhaus. You have to get the fabric right. Fabric first to be robust.

Why Passivhaus?

Chris talked about Wolfgang Feist who is the Founder and Director of the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, Germany.

Chris explained that the primary focus of the project was getting the fabric right so the building would work indefinitely.   Chris highlighted an image of the barn which showed the layout. It was a big 2 storey space. The challenge was to look at thermal performance. The risk of moisture within the cavity and in the timber frame was a big concern.

Chris described how a huge amount of underpinning was required. Chris talked about insulation in detail and the concerns about moisture and how a tanking system with a drip was installed. Chris explained the whole cavity is ventilated and the complex detailing required. Chris described how teplo ties were used and were specially made so they could be bolted into the frame. Chris talked about wind, rain and solar driven moisture and explained a moisture analysis was carried out. Leeds Metropolitan University are currently continuing to monitor this. It is working well so far but will be monitored for a number of years.   Chris explained how the windows and doors of a Passivhaus must be in line with the insulation. Aluminium liners were used. The door thresholds were a big issue so Compacfoam high density polystyrene was used.

Chris talked about the MVHR vent strategy. 2 ventilation units were installed that work in tandem. The idea is that staff will switch this to ‘boost’ when there are lots of people in the barn.

Chris explained that the barn is currently going through EnerPHit certification. There are 2 standards available and they have opted for the elemental method rather than retrofit.

Chris explained that more information is available on the website including a data sheet that can be downloaded They are currently proofing a short film which will also be available on the website.

Tom Knowland invited comments and questions from the audience:

“They were 2 very interesting and contrasting presentations. How do you overcome noise issues such as switching on the fans? How do you manage the noise?”

“We need to upskill people to drive the Passivhaus standard forward”

“A school with opening windows, I thought that natural ventilation was disallowed?”

“Do you think that the industry is really ready to build Passivhaus?”

“The industry has a long way to come”

“I cannot justify this in my own mind. It’s not affordable unless using government money. I’m not convinced. We build retirement buildings and I don’t think our elderly clients would be interested they believe they have done their bit for the environment”

Chris spoke about how they design and supply mechanical ventilation and stated it’s about good design. Chris commented that it is a pertinent question. Natural vent doesn’t give good ventilation. You don’t get moisture with a well installed mechanical ventilation system. Elrond confirmed there is still a debate in the industry if we should advocate mechanical vent only. He said they still design buildings to feel like you are in control of your ventilation and use natural ventilation during summer. The compromise is so little if you open a window because the mechanical ventilation is so good. With mechanical ventilation you have the choice. Chris agreed that in a Passivhaus if you open a window some heat is lost but why would you do it.

Elrond responded that he has never experienced any sound problems in any of his buildings. On the subject of budgets Elrond confirmed there isn’t a project they have delivered that hasn’t met the set budget. It’s about prioritising the budget.

Elrond believes that the industry is ready to build Passivhaus with the right motivation. It is about having a good collaborative ethos.

Chris agreed that people in the industry need to be upskilled. Chris doesn’t think the industry is quite there yet. He believes we should be setting targets to upskill the industry. Chris delivers consultancy work with large contractors and believes we need to change the way contracting is done. It is about good detailing and good quality builds. Chris said that Passivhaus is not fully understood by the consumer. There is no market driver yet. People who have lived or worked in a Passivhaus love their building and they are passionate about it.

Tom thanked our speakers for two interesting and informative presentations.


Author – Donna Lee

Join us on 25th June for a Passivhaus Excellence breakfast event

Connect with key clients and partners at a Passivhaus Excellence breakfast with Elrond Burrell, Associate at Architype Ltd  and Chris Herring, Director at Green Building Store.


The morning’s presentations will consist of..


Passivhaus: Sacrificing natural materials for energy efficiency?


Elrond Burrell from Architype will introduce the Passivhaus standard and present case studies to illustrate the use of natural materials in Passivhaus buildings.





From derelict barn to eco exemplar education centre.


Chris Herring, Director, Green Building Store will be speaking about the company’s recent Passivhaus retrofit (EnerPHit standard) project at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Stirley Community Farm.


Wednesday 25th June
Addleshaw Goddard
Sovereign House, Sovereign Street  

(If you are using a satellite navigation, please use the following postcode: LS1 4BJ)





“Startling Statistics” – Regulation Excellence Seminar

Regulation Excellence Seminar

Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humberside continued its 2014 series with the Regulation Excellence breakfast seminar this week, at the Rose Bowl at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Our regular chair, Cliff Jones of the NHS Department of Health once again did the honours of chairing the event and welcomed a host of new faces in response to the specialist nature of the presentations. In addition to his role on the Senior Management team of Procure 21 + where he chairs the Principal Supply Chain Members Financial and Commercial Group he is also part time lecturer at the University.

Cliff introduced our first speaker Andy Thomas from Butler and Young, which is one of the largest and most prevalent approved inspector organisations in the country. Andy himself has been in building control for over 35 years , lecturers on building regulations at Universities and to Architects, Contractors and Clients as well as being CPD provider to RICS, RIBA, CIOB and the Fire Services. Being based in Wales, we were most grateful for his time and effort in sharing such knowledge with our team in Yorkshire.

Andys’s presentation started with Charles II who introduced the first building inspectors following the Great Fire of London, but even in 1985 there were still 1000 deaths being recorded, which in 2012 had been reduced significantly to 300 mainly with the introduction of fire alarms which have grown from 8% to 86% in the same period, but this is still an unacceptable high level of deaths. Other deaths in respect of our built environment are recorded in respect of stairs, drownings in baths and an unusually high number from Radon (as provided by National Statistics).

In order to tackle such issues the area of building control continues with the challenges although the current thrust is to deal with the increasing ‘red tape’ as upheld in the Taylor Report and Harmon Report where it is noted that planning is ‘unfit for purpose’, and the need to sweep away bureaucratic assessment regimes. Thus the strategy for change in 2013 was changes to Part L, new part K and L and amendments to the other parts of the regulations.

In terms of energy use Andy presented some startling statistics which reinforced the need to meet the Zero Carbon 2020 target. In terms of BC the four key steps were identified as avoid solar gains, less use of energy, use of renewables and allowable solutions (offsetting), and concluding then the thrust of the changes to the Building regulations currently is the reduction of regulations themselves, reducing the administrative burden, clarity of guidance and removing conflicting instructions.

Cliff then welcomed John  Brooks from Turley, Planning Consultants who provided his expert insights into the changes in planning in an equally informed and compelling way to Andy. The planning system is also going through simplification. These changes are nothing too radical but again look to simplify and clarify arrangements.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) simplified the planning system and has been well received, in which it is stated councils must have a 5 year plan of its own for housing. This is leading to a change in mind-set in many Local Authorities where the opportunity is being generally embraced e.g. in Leeds 2-3 years ago there were 11 applications refused, appealed and then approved, let’s consider the cost in this bureaucracy?

John covered other areas such as the Permitted Development Changes (e.g. offices to residential), the Prior Notification Process where the key thing is the notion of deemed approval after the notice period.

In terms of flooding, John noted that the planning system does try to predict flooding and that the new guidance in the NPPF, replacing guidance in PPG25 and PPS25, is a step in the right direction.

Turning to Leeds’ Unitary Development Plan, this is now being updated and is substantially complete, and within this the need for 70,000 new homes means increasing pressure on finding new sites.

Elsewhere there is a new specialist Planning Court being established within the High Court to allow proper focus and a speeding up of the legal process using expert judges particularly where judicial review cases are being brought.Cliff kindly thanked both speakers for their expert insight into these specialist topics and commented on the tremendous value of the Constructing Excellence programme in helping professionals understand these areas more clearly. This was reflected by a lively Q&A session which covered queries around the amount and recording of Radon deaths (google: radon maps!), sequential planning and the impact of the simplification of regulations in respect of e.g. Code for Sustainable Homes and how this is to be managed (Andy stated this already covered in the new B Regs.)

Please note:

Presentations from this event can be found at

The next Constructing Excellence Event will be held on Wednesday 26th March and will focus on QS excellence (further details here

“Spaghetti and Marshmallows” Youth Excellence Seminar

Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humberside started the New Years’ series with its Youth Excellence event yesterday at the Rose Bowl at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Caroline Key chaired the first event of 2014, Caroline is regional coordinator for G4C, Generation for Change part of Constructing Excellence, driving the change agenda and ensuring best practice for the next generation of construction professionals.

Caroline introduced the effervescent and inspirational Alison Watson who has gained wide respect among not only her peers but also influential decision makers in Government,  for raising the profile  of (if not introducing to some!) the concept of the construction professional as a fantastic career prospect as a healthy alternative to the overplayed ‘Bob the Builder’ message.

Alison has established Class of your Own  (COYO), a social business , focused on bringing the message of  what the industry has to offer to children of school age – a “constructive education for young people”

Alison’s presentation was not just a ‘pitch’ but a sharing of her voyage of discovery since she realised that the industry’s future health is dependent on targeting and nurturing the talent in schools. Her vision includes the need to inspire the thousands of boys and girls to think about the prospects of working in the industry, using their minds and intelligence to overcoming challenges and providing solutions. All too often the industry is portrayed dumbed down, and adding insult to injury those that have least ‘apparent’ academic ability only being channelled into the trades.  This is completely against Alison’s version of reality based on entering the industry with a love for maths and for Land Surveying! Examples of PhD students taking an age to solve simple application of Pythagoras versus the inherent ability of a bricklayer to do this intuitively brought home the message that all too often we allow the industry to be browbeaten down by the voices in other sectors;  many times down to the lack of awareness and knowledge in the schools themselves. So part of her journey is to equip the teachers with the passion she shares that can be passed on to the kids.

As a result Alison has worked tirelessly on developing these themes and was able to demonstrate the many and significant examples of the great achievements of schoolchildren from all around the country, some of which from backgrounds that are not conducive to such levels of attainment and which have led on to these children presenting their work at the highest level within industry and across continents – even meeting Prince Andrew!

Her work now is based on providing the formal context and developing a curriculum for teaching the principles for and encouraging the problem solving abilities that are required in our industry, this based largely on interactive and project based work. For more see

Before we leave Alison we need to reflect on the hard work that has been involved and still goes on to ensure that this approach is fully integrated into the schools’ operations – the alignment with all the policies and procedures that exist (KS4 etc), and the effort needed to ensure there is a clear legacy in place.

After such a dynamic presentation from Alison all eyes were on Rob Wolfe, and of course Rob rose to the high standard with a clear articulation of the achievements (and challenges) on delivering key social outcomes through his work with Construction and Housing Yorkshire (CHY) and in particular its  intervention on BAM’s Leeds Arena project.

Rob made it clear that whilst it was great to work with the council, the contractor and the supply chain, it is also very necessary to have the contractual ‘bite’ to ensure that the desired outcomes are met and achieved.

Rob started off  by taking us through his own journey from ‘call centre’ operator to looking to make the difference. Why do we bother?  For CHY it is about making sure that everybody can reach their aspirations. We need to create the right environment that can support people to achieve their aspirations.

On this basis the engagement started from ‘open door’ awareness sessions bringing in the local community to see the opportunities for work on the site (initially only a handful showed up) to the thousands of weeks of experience, and hundreds of job opportunities that exist in the city – even now.

Rob shared the initial plan for, the learning and the outcomes from the Arena, and apportioned a lot of the success down to the planning with the council and BAM, and also the engagement with the whole supply chain right through to the suppliers and manufacturers that were involved with the project.

But the challenges are still there. From a recent opportunity to fill 15 places for apprenticeships only 8 were taken.

A lively Q&A followed, reflecting on the effort it must take from all involved to make progress no matter how small and to keep building the picture that we need to set in the minds of young people.

Don’t encourage them to be a footballer , encourage them to look at engineering stadiums and say its lighting – how that relates to it being shown on Sky, or a DJ get them interested in the engineering and design behind the superficiality of the initial appeal of these roles.

Close to home Alison shared the thought of her daughter ‘If only maths could be more spaghetti and marshmallows ‘ i.e. Applied learning … That’s how we learn … and suggested that we should be thinking about “Let’s do maths … Big maths !” (not just the big Data being talked about now)

So………………..passionate and inspiring views … Still face mountains to climb … how do we clone  the Alisons , Robs and Carolines?

Please note: the next Constructing Excellence Event will be held on Wednesday 26th February and will focus on regulation excellence (further details here

Get ready to celebrate another fantastic 12 months of Construction Excellence in the region


Following on from the success of last year’s awards where we welcomed over 250 construction professionals to celebrate the best of construction in the Yorkshire and Humber region we are pleased to announce that the 2014 awards will be going ahead on Friday 18th July at Sheffield City Hall and promise to be bigger and better than ever!

Over the last 5 years the event has grown to become one of the highlights of the construction year with a wide range of businesses (from SMEs to public sector orgs to principle contractors) taking the opportunity to submit entries & showcase the sheer depth of construction talent we have in our region.

This year we are pleased to announce that in line with the CE National Awards we will be choosing winners across 12 different categories who will then go on to represent Yorkshire & Humber at the national awards in London in Autumn. The 12 categories are as follows:

Integration and Collaborative Working

Leadership and People Development

The Legacy Award – Sustainability

SME Award



Health and Safety

Heritage Award

Achiever of the Year Award

Young Achiever – G4C*

Client of the Year

Project of the Year

We will be accepting entries for each category from 1st March to 9th May at 5.00pm. Submission forms can be obtained from Carole Saul

We look forward to seeing you on what will no doubt be an extremely enjoyable and productive evening with a few laughs thrown in too!

Sponsor the event

As usual we have some great sponsorship packages available including a unique headline sponsorship opportunity, a first for the Yorkshire and Humber awards. Feel particularly strong about a particular award category? Then sponsor it! All sponsors will have extensive promotion right up to and beyond the awards not to mention an opportunity to attend as the event & network with over 200 key figures in construction. To find out about sponsorship opportunities available please contact Claire Bowles on 07585 795478

Strategic Project Management in Action

The Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humberside seminar series completed its first series with a deep insight into the IUK Infrastructure Routemap and some great case studies of strategic project management in action.

Addleshaw Goodard kindly hosted the event which was attended by 35 professionals from the sector and again attracted interest from both East and South Yorkshire. Facilitated by TCC, the presentations from Professor Denise Bowyer of Leeds University, Neil Yates from Yorkshire Water and Jon Oldridge of Tata provided the delegates with a thorough understanding of the way in which projects are able to use the Infrastructure Routemap as a way of creating alignment and dealing with complexity in projects, and noting that half of project failures are down to cultural and corporate differences and lack of trust. Denise presented on the use of the tools in associated with the routemap to drive understanding across delivery teams, and establish any gaps.

Neil explained that the AMP5 programme had recognised early on the need for strategic planning and how in the Capital Out Performance group, setting joint strategic objectives, producing a clear commercial strategy, and collaboration facilitated by co location had all led to much improved and more effective decision making.

John Oldridge had observed on their key rail projects how collaboration and co location had also enabled cultural change leading to a focus on ‘one goal’ allowing such things as ‘designing safety in’ and noting that the  ‘prize is in delivery’

About Constructing Excellence Events

Each of our events seeks to bring in support from the various Institutions and professional bodies involved in the sector, please contact us if you have ideas for the programme or would like to get involved. We have been working on the next series which will commence on the last Wendesday in January with ‘Youth Excellence’ including presentations from Alison Watson of Class of Your Own and Rob Wolfe, Construction and Housing Yorkshire, taking us from classroom to apprenticeships and thereby shaping the future of the Industry. ‘Regulation Excellence’ in February will feature update in both planning and building regulations, finishing in March with a presentation fully supported by RICS Yorkshire and featuring an insight into the QS approach in Australia.

Developed by Centre for Knowledge Exchange part of the Leeds Metropolitan University this exciting new programme aims to provide a regular focus and deliver  on the most important and relevant aspects of the construction and property sector. Based on a breakfast seminar slot on the last Wednesday of each month, the series aims to bring construction leaders and practitioners together for networking and collaboration around a themed topic on each occasion.

“Talk Construction” and Design Management Seminar

The Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humberside seminar series continued today with its follow up event to the inaugural presentation on design held last month with RIBA with Design Management. The Centre for Knowledge Exchange team at Leeds Metropolitan University were delighted to welcome John Eynon, CIOB Ambassador and Author of “The Design Manager’s Handbook”, alongside Dr Andrew Platten Associate Dean at Leeds Met covering a CIOB themed and supported presentation.

Delegates packed the room at DLA Architectures’ office in Leeds centre and were treated to two presentations chaired by Cliff Jones, Senior Policy and Performance Manager  for Procure21+ at the Department of Health in Leeds.

Andrew who had kindly stepped in to cover the duties of Eddie Tuttle who was unable to attend did a sterling job of the presenting the CIOB’s current main initiative ‘Talk Construction’ which is to be held In London on 25/26th November He asked the seminar group to consider not only attending the event but also to provide a context for its legacy here in the region and in particular the questions being posed by CIOB:

  • What are the biggest issues affecting your business?
  • What do you think about Construction 2025?
  • Results of this research will form part of extensive regional survey to members and results announced at the conference

Andrew invites all involved to either contact the CIOB through the website above or via

John’s presentation focused on the principles of the Design Management which includes the management of all project related design activities, people, processes, and resources and which enables the effective flow and production of design information. Using a  “Four step process” John noted that failure to properly address the project needs and brief fully before contract award would have a major impact on the management of risk throughout the build and handover stages.

The next event on  27th November sees an infrastructure themed event supported by ICE and focusing on best practice project management with keynote speaker Denise Bower of Leeds University and member of the Construction Industry Strategy Advisory Council, Yorkshire Water. For further details and booking information please visit the Centre for Knowledge Exchange (CKE) website here

About the Constructing Excellence Seminar series

Developed by the Centre for Knowledge Exchange, part of Leeds Metropolitan University, this exciting new programme aims to provide a regular focus on the most important and relevant aspects of the construction and property sector. Based on a breakfast seminar slot on the last Wednesday of each month, the series aims to bring construction leaders and practitioners together for networking and collaboration around a themed topic on each occasion. Each of our events will seek to bring in support from the various Institutions and professional bodies involved in the sector.